This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest – Newberry Seminar in the Humanities, a unique program that brings undergraduate students to the Newberry for a semester-long course taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty and culminating in a substantial research paper using our collection. Offering a semester’s academic credit, the seminar allows participants to immerse themselves in humanities research and to maximize their use of the resources available at the Newberry. These resources include the Newberry’s vast collection of original historical materials as well as guidance in how to use and interpret those materials from Newberry staff and fellows and from the seminar instructors, who come from institutions in the ACM or from colleges belonging to another consortium called the Great Lakes Colleges Association.
“Such an important anniversary reflects the value of the Newberry’s collaborations with other institutions to promote research in the humanities and the ongoing analysis and interpretation of the books, manuscripts, maps, music, ephemera, and other unique and rare materials in our collection,” said Newberry President David Spadafora. “The inquiries made by successive generations of scholars ensure the continued vitality of the Newberry’s collection. We are grateful to the Associated Colleges of the Midwest for partnering with us to welcome cohorts of dedicated humanities students to our community of learners for the past 50 years.”
In honor of the anniversary of the ACM-Newberry Seminar, the Newberry hosted a reunion of the program’s alumni this past September. The reunion featured students and instructors from throughout the seminar’s 50-year history; in attendance were members of the first ACM-Newberry class in 1965 as well as students currently participating in the program.
During an open forum for sharing their experiences at the Newberry, reunion attendees explained how the seminar program influenced the course of their lives after leaving the Newberry and graduating from college. Some spoke of transitioning to graduate school and to careers in academia, a path that the seminar, with its emphasis on research skills and the interpretive synthesis of primary sources, often suggests. Other alumni shared the belief that the ACM-Newberry Seminar prepared them for a range of pursuits, from museum curation and IT support to practicing law and even serving on the Newberry staff.
“The ACM-Newberry Seminar in the Humanities is one of the Newberry’s signature programs,” said Brad Hunt, Vice President for Research and Academic Programs at the Newberry. “It’s been immensely gratifying to learn about the variety of personal and professional accomplishments that these seminar alumni attribute to their participation in the program. Their experiences attest to the importance of studying the humanities in a rigorous and sustained way.”